Playing a new position and at the varsity level for the first time, Allison Donatelli of the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team had plenty of reasons to feel out of place.

Playing a new position and at the varsity level for the first time, Allison Donatelli of the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team had plenty of reasons to feel out of place.

But running the point as a freshman, she has made things work, averaging 10 points through six games, though her team was just 1-5 overall.

"Allison has done a great job taking over as our floor leader," coach Amber Ellison said. "Running the point she has a lot of responsibilities as a freshman, but she makes great decisions. She handles herself very well and does everything I ask of her."

"I never played point guard before so I felt a lot of pressure to do well and pick up the team," Donatelli said. "I've never had to use my ball-handling skills as much in a game before. But I felt comfortable there from day one."

Only one of Orange's players, junior forward T.J. Williams, played at the varsity level last year. The inexperience, mixed with a strong schedule, has resulted in a slow start. The first six opponents -- Centennial, Olentangy Liberty, Delaware, Mount Vernon, Big Walnut and New Albany -- were a combined 27-10 through last Friday.

"We're playing a brutal schedule, but hopefully after the next 14 games it's going to come back and help us," Ellison said. "We'll be tournament-tough because we've played such a tough schedule.

"We all know we're young but we can't use that excuse all year. As long as we're improving game to game that's all I am going to ask for."

The Pioneers will play host to Jonathan Alder on Saturday and Beechcroft on Jan. 3 before returning to OCC-Capital Division play Jan. 6 against Franklin Heights.

"We're a lot better than we were as a team (at the beginning of the season)," Donatelli said. "Our defense has really picked up and we're a lot more intense than we were. I think the winter break is going to help us improve a lot."

•Olentangy will play host to the Olentangy Holiday Classic on Monday and Tuesday. The Braves will open against Whitehall at 6 p.m. Monday, with Northland playing Waynesville in the other semifinal afterward. The consolation is 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the final.

Whitehall was 2-4 after defeating Worthington Christian 41-31 on Dec. 16. Northland was 4-1 after defeating Centennial 59-20 last Friday, with its loss being to Pickerington North 50-34 on Nov. 29. Waynesville was 5-1 after defeating Preble Shawnee 58-26 on Dec. 13.

"Look at who we've played," said coach John Feasel, whose team was 3-3 before facing Dublin Jerome last Tuesday. "We've played Big Walnut, Delaware and New Albany, and we play Pickerington Central on Jan. 17.

"Don't get me wrong. We want to win every game, but we're not playing a bunch of creampuffs. We want our non-league schedule to challenge us so we're ready at the end of the season. That's my goal."

Big Walnut, Delaware, New Albany and Pickerington Central were a combined 22-2 through last Friday.

Olentangy lost to Liberty 65-64 last Friday as the Patriots outscored the Braves 27-16 in the fourth quarter. Liberty, which has won the last three meetings with Olentangy, improved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Central.

Cassie Swafford scored 25 points and Brittney Wex added 12 for the Patriots. For the Braves, Emily Raiff scored 17 points, Nicole Payne had 16 and Jordan Sanders added 12.

The Braves won their tournament two years ago and were second last year.

"You're able to get more done over winter break than during the regular schedule," Feasel said. "We'll have morning practices and watch film after practice. There's no homework, no other kids at school to hinder us from getting things done. It's best time of the year."

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for Liberty, Olentangy and Orange girls basketball teams: LIBERTY *Last Friday -- Def. Olentangy 65-64. Cassie Swafford scored 25 points and Brittney Wex added 12. Last Monday -- Played Watterson *Last Tuesday -- Played Westerville North *Jan. 6 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Irish were 5-0 after defeating Westerville North 57-37 last Friday. The Patriots lost 62-41 and 74-48 last year. Of note: The Patriots were 4-2 overall before last Monday and 3-1 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday. OLENTANGY *Last Friday -- Lost to Liberty 65-64. Emily Raiff scored 17 points, Nicole Payne had 16 and Jordan Sanders added 12. *Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Jerome Monday -- Home vs. Whitehall in Olentangy Holiday Classic Tuesday -- Home vs. Waynesville or Northland in Olentangy Holiday Classic *Jan. 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central Of note: The Braves were 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday. *OCC-Cardinal game ORANGE *Last Friday -- Lost to New Albany 53-39. Kelsey Lewis scored 13 points and Allison Donatelli added 11. *Last Tuesday -- Played Watkins Memorial Saturday -- Home vs. Jonathan Alder Jan. 3 -- Home vs. Beechcroft Of note: The Pioneers were 1-5 overall and 0-4 in OCC-Capital before last Tuesday *OCC-Capital game